This post is also available in: Finnish
You heard me! W i t h y o u r p h o n e – ’cause it is possible, no matter what they keep telling you about DSLR’s, fancy gear and studio equipment. Of course all these things are very helpful but not as necessary as some people think. What is necessary though, is light. After all these years I’ve been into photography, film as well as digital, the most important thing I’ve learned is that light means everything. Whether it’s bright daylight, a dim light bulb in the middle of darkness or the flashlight attached to your camera, you need to know how to manipulate it in your favor to get the best shot.
I could go on and on about this but since the headline promised you great product images with your phone, I’m just going to focus on that now. The number one mistake in trying to sell a product online or attempting to create an interesting and attractive blog is to add a bad picture. I’ve been guilty of it before and even these days the lack of time sometimes gets to me – so I’ve added a photo or two that were not as good as they could have been. I have focused on using my fancy gear (the humangous professional DSLR, a powerful lense, a tripod, white balance cards etc) which, of course, can help me take really nice photos but is also very time consuming. Setting up all the equipment takes time. Uploading those large images to my laptop takes time. Cropping and adjusting them with my image software takes even more time, and finally uploading the pictures to my shop or this blog… you got it; more time again.
So, lately I’ve decided to just take pictures with my phone occasionally because it’s easy, fast and can actually give you really nice results – if you know how to let enough light in. You can apply these tips to pretty much anything; food pics for your cooking blog, product images for your shop, fun pictures for birthday or Christmas cards – get creative! All you need is a light source (natural light through the window is great, but you can try different kinds of lamps, too), two or three large pieces of white cardboard, and your smartphone with a good photo app.
As you can see, I wanted to take pictures with natural light so I created a nice spot beside the window. If you have a large enough piece of white cardboard you can bend it and create a seamless background. Since I couldn’t find one, I used a piece for the background (taped it onto the doors of the cabinets) and another one under the item (see how clever I was, using the puppy crate as a desk…) Now, you don’t want blinding bright sunlight to hit your product – if that’s what happens you can try and pull a sheer white curtain in front of the window. On the other hand, you can light up your item by taking one more piece of white cardboard and holding it on the other side – this way the light coming from the window will bounce from the cardboard and fill out the shadows on the other side. I would have needed a third hand to do that, so I didn’t.
Above you see the picture as it turned out with my phone camera. Here in the Northern Finland we are not getting a lot of light at this time of year, so the image is a little too dark. Also, you can clearly see the cardboard in the background, so this photo needed some adjustments. I imported it into my favorite photo app VSCO (it’s seriously awesome, available for iPhone and android, has a lot of great settings if you want to enhance your image manually – and if you don’t, you can just use one of its numerous filters), cropped it and brightened up the exposure by just a couple of steps. That’s ALL I did – the colors were correct, the image was nice and sharp so I didn’t have to do anything else. So the following image was literally taken and adjusted within 60 seconds:
I took several pictures of 3 bags in this tiny DIY photo studio of mine, and I was done in 15 minutes. Seriously! No hassle with memory cards, laptops, uploading and all that stuff that usually drives me crazy. Not because I hate it – I really don’t, it’s just that I hate using that much time on it.
Here’s a BONUS TIP for you! If you’re not selling products or taking pictures of food and stuff, this is what you can do! Create a Christmassy setting and BOOM – you have a nice picture for your Christmas cards! To show you how incredibly easy it is, I set up another background today:
For this image I used two spruce shaped candles and a tiny Santa Claus ornament. I tried setting them up in different positions and checked through the lense of my smartphone camera until it looked right to me. So here’s what I got:
I decided to use filters for this one – I didn’t want the image to be bright and detailed like the product images. I needed a storybook-kind-of-image, something a little faded that adds more character to the simple items. Notice how I left a big blank area on the lower right hand corner? I did it because the funny face of this tiny Santa totally called for a line…
Again, I used a mobile app called Font Studio to add the text. No laptop needed, all these pictures were taken and processed with my Android phone. I hope this has been helpful! Let me know if you end up using some of these tips, and most of all: if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask!